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January 2021

  /    /  January

Since the U.S. doesn't require Service Dog certifications, the only way to tell a "real" Service Dog from a fake is by behavior. Read on to learn more about what a Service Dog should act like. Every Service Dog Team is Unique Every Service Dog team has unique abilities, needs, and work styles. No two teams possess the same training since every disability is different. What works for one team may not work for others. However, it's vital to note that every "real" Service Dog has one thing in common: they're individually trained to meet the needs of a person with a disability. This individual training specifically addresses their person's needs. The behaviors, tasks, and work the dog does for their handler aren't "natural" behaviors or things any dog could do. The training is precise and exact. The trained behaviors are on cue, reliable, and replicable. The dog's response to the cue/command is predictable since it's a trained behavior. As an example, a Service Dog who is trained to nudge their handler's hand when the handler becomes frozen in fear is different from a dog who naturally pushes and shoves with their muzzle. The second dog's behavior cannot be predicted and it isn't on cue. Therefore, it's not a trained behavior and does not count as a Service Dog task, even if it's helpful. Emotional Support Is Not a Trained Task This is why emotional support does not count as a Service Dog task. All dogs can provide emotional support. However, you can't train a dog to provide emotional support. You can train a dog to provide deep pressure stimulation to ground the handler during a panic attack or to alert the handler to a person approaching from behind. A dog who is not trained to reliably provide tasks and/or work that help their handler do things they couldn't do on their own in response to specific cues or commands is not a Service Dog. Dogs in public masquerading as Service Dogs who aren't Service Dogs do not possess the caliber of training necessary to work calmly and reliably. Fake Service Dogs create a lot of complications for real Service Dog teams. Namely, they create suspicion and access issues for well-trained teams. Service Dog Behavior: General Manners Service Dogs appear calm, relaxed, and able to focus while working with their partner in public. They should have good manners. They shouldn't jump, bark uncontrollably, growl, appear out of control, or

When it comes to training a Service Dog, absolutely nothing is more important than exhaustive socialization. Socialization and exposure to the world is the foundation upon which all other training rests, and a Service Dog who hasn't gained real-world experience via systematic socialization is not fit for public access. With this list of oft-missed opportunities, you'll be able to ensure you're hitting all the bases while socializing Service Dogs in Training. Important Considerations Before Beginning Never, ever put a vest on a dog or claim it as a Service Dog in Training that is still displaying any behavior issues that would be eliminated during basic training — including leash pulling, inappropriate sniffing, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize a dog in public at pet stores which allow animals, public parks and other areas which allow dogs. Remember, your behavior and that of your dog not only effects you but other Service Dog teams as well. Before bringing your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) home, you need to have a defined plan for socializing him. While many people decide to simply take the puppy with them and introduce him to everything and anything they can, utilizing that approach results in missed experiences and an uneven education. Unfortunately, more Service Dogs are released from training programs across the country for socialization concerns than any other reason. Protect your partnership by not only picking a puppy from a source that began socialization and stimulation at birth, but by also continuing socialization, exposure and training throughout your puppy's training. The most important rule of socializing Service Dogs in Training is to never, ever, ever, for any reason, force an SDiT to approach, interact with, touch or be on/near/with something that appears to frighten them. Forcing a puppy in training to engage when afraid ensures he'll never form positive associations with the object, person, place, surface, equipment or situation. Instead of forcing your SDiT, always keep high-value treats with you and use them to encourage a suspicious puppy to explore a situation of his own accord. If you lay a solid foundation of socialization that rewards a puppy in new situations, you'll create a confident learner who thoroughly enjoys circumstances he's never encountered. Finally, your Service Dog in Training needs to encounter a situation more than once before you can ensure he'll always be comfortable with it. You should try for at least 3 instances of positive exposure. Always